December always marks the start of the Christmas season—my family has had a Christmas tree Advent calendar, equipped with 25 ornaments to count down the days, since I was a little girl. My sister and I always used to argue over who got the privilege of hanging up the day’s ornament.
Advent. A season of hopeful expectation. The assurance that Love is coming.
This Advent season, though, I feel a different kind of waiting. There is a heaviness to it. No matter how many Christmas songs I listen to, my brain keeps wandering back to the Israelites and their 400 years of darkness. Four hundred years they waited for rescue, while all of creation groaned in the silence, waiting.
This year I am there, too. Waiting. I’m waiting for the jobs, the grad school acceptance letters, the divinely-whispered “next step.” It hasn’t come yet.
I may not have experienced 400 years of silence—but I have experienced the ache in the waiting. I reflect on Job and how he spoke of things he could not understand. I think of Moses and his endless pleading with Pharaoh. I read about Hosea, who must have been heartbroken a hundred times over by his unfaithful bride.
I think of me. Of the thousands of missteps. The silly mistakes. Everything that has taken me off the straight and narrow and into the arms of whatever worldly pleasures might drain me of my vitality.
In that awful tension—that dead silence—I sit with my Bible and my coffee mug. One word is imprinted on the ceramic of the mug: Still. It reminds me that even after 400 years, God still fulfilled his promise.
He still remembered his people, though hardly in the way anyone expected. He still showed up. He still came to the rescue.
That truth? It’s still true today. Even in the darkness, the silence, the waiting—our God still shows up for us.
As I hang tiny little ornaments up on my Advent calendar, I am reminded every day that I am still waiting. But the countdown to Christmas—the celebration of the fulfillment of promises—reminds me even more powerfully that I do not wait in vain. None of us do. Because—just as he did years ago—our God still comes for us.
“For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall never be shaken” (Psalm 62:1-2, NRSV).
“I praise God for the ministry of The Upper Room. After publishing a daily devotional, I received a message from a 16-year old in South Africa thanking me for lifting her out of depression.” Read Tony’s devotional here.